(1896 - 1995)
Nat Holman was born on October
19, 1896, in New
York City. Known as “Mr. Basketball,” Nat
Holman was one of the great players, coaches,
and innovators of the sport.
In 1919, at the age of 23, Holman became the youngest
college coach in the United States, taking the basketball helm at City
College of New York (CCNY), a job he held until 1960 (less three seasons
in the 1950s). His CCNY teams boasted a remarkable 422-188 win-loss
record. Holman's 1949-50 team was the first and last team to win the
“grand slam” of American college basketball: championships
of both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament
and the National Invitational Tournament in the same season.
While coaching at CCNY, the 5'11'' Holman played professional
basketball on weekends, at first with the New York Whirlwinds in 1920
and early 1921. He joined the legendary Original Celtics at the end
of the 1921 season and continued to play for them until 1929. Holman
was regarded as the finest ball handler, playmaker, and set-shot artist
of his day—a player with undefinable court savvy that helped lead
the Celtics to an incredible 531-28 win-loss record.
It was with the Celtics that Holman devised the “center
pivot” play, an offensive concept that revolutionized basketball.
Every Celtic game was a virtual basketball clinic, as college coaches
flocked to watch Holman demonstrate his “cutting off the pivot”
and execute the “give-and-go.”
The Celtics joined the American Basketball League in
1926, but the team’s lopsided winning ways continued. Having no
reasonable competition to conquer, the team disbanded in 1929.
Holman was a member of the group that organized the
American team for the first Maccabiah
Games in Palestine in 1932. In 1949, under sponsorship of the U.S.
State Department, he was the first American to coach in Israel,
setting up clinics to develop the sport of basketball in the Holy Land.
Under State Department auspices, he also conducted
basketball clinics in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Canada, and Turkey.
In 1973, Holman began an eight-year term as president
of the United States Committee Sports for Israel, sponsors of the U.S.
Maccabiah Games Team.
Nat Holman was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall
of Fame in 1965. In 1950, American sportswriters named him to the First
Team of the Half-Century (1900-1950) and the third greatest player of
Nat Holman died on February 12, 1995.
Holman .“ International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame; Picture courtesy of: International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame